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How I test my candidate distrubutions

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 PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 12:48 am   
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2003 3:56 pm
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This is how I ended up testing many recent distros, and was recently refined due to events I personally encountered.

This is my (recently developed) test plan, if you will. I've ultimately concluded this is necessary for my hardware, and in fact, it covers a lot of ground for anyone. I assume you have been able to verify that the ISO you downloaded produces a checksum on your system which is identical with the checksum that is posted for that iso file.

1] Boot a live session. Play around with what is in the live session.

2] Surf using a simple ethernet to wifi client adapter setup.

3] Shutdown and reboot live, shutdown and reboot live, consistently getting the same, unchanged hardware to start, creating the same result for 2 boots in a row.

4] Launch it's package manager and it successfully refreshes, during the live session.

5] It installs and doesn't get lost during the process of installation.

6] After installing, shutdown and reboot.

7] In the installed environment, surf with minor connection editing, or no editing at all.

]8] Launch the package manager, and refresh.
9] Select to update all installed packages, and update successfully.

10] Shutdown, restart, shutdown restart.

11] Add packages which aren't part of the default installation.

Explanations, with the step number I'm explaining:

1] Some of my recent tests did not get through step 1].

2] Wireless cards sometimes stop the show by needing special firmware which might not be allowed in a distribution. A client adapter is already configured and connected to a wifi network, so the live session simply configures the onboard ethernet hardware for me. If I get past 1], then this usually worked.

3] Stopped more than one live distro. Believe it!

4] Lost one live session there.

5] This includes the concepts of not getting lost during the live session, it installed with no glaring issues, and after installation it rebooted on the first boot from media it was installed onto. Lost several live sessions there, because the installation created a hanging boot session. I was usually quite generous on first installed boots, but losing a fresh install after waiting over an hour and up to 9 hours for the first boot to come out of it's coma is beyond reasonable. First boots should be about as fast or faster than booting from a live session hosted on CD/DVD. For that matter, booting a distro which has been installed onto my hardware should at least match booting a live session passing through my mainboards USB 2.0 interfaces. My hardware fully supports SATA II, which is always faster than USB 2.0.

6] And this time, the rebooted installed session this MUST be the same or faster than the first installed boot. All reconfiguring of newly installed default software must be accomplished by this point.

7] If the installed environment can configure my Broadcom based wifi card in my system, then I simply need to enter credentials for my wireless network, so that's all really good news. If the installed environment didn't configure the Broadcom wireless card, I'm disappointed (because PCLinuxOS and a couple other distros figured this out a few years ago, but most distros still struggle with Broadcom). If the system was unable to configure the internal Broadcom wifi card, then the ethernet to client adapter was working during the live session and is still connected; thus any distro that ran live had better not fail this!

8] This is how I ended up discovering my TL-WR700N Client adapter was not capable of IPv6 connections, and thus I owe Ubuntu Mate another test. Ultimately, I may never retest Ubuntu Mate, if Antix 16.2 comes to my liking.

9] Some iso files I've recently downloaded are a year old, simply because the distribution hasn't generated recent ISO sessions for what criteria I chose. Sometimes, I chose long term support versions so this step evolved from using older distros, and is essentially my personal preference.

10] Lost one distro for failing to shutdown after installing updates. It simply never completely shut off my desktop system, when other distros succeed. And, I tossed Fedora 26 for their first update (after installing and rebooting) killing my working GRUB configuration. For any user who is new to a distribution of the caliber of Fedora, this step needs to be completed without failures. No reason for failure here. You do NOT ever kill a working installation, especially not at the GRUB stage of booting.

11] This is a real mood killer. I get this far, and then it can't install user software correctly.

If I get this far, then any decision to leave a distribution would be based on personal experiences, such as very very slow file transfers when I know the hardware goes faster in another distro, damaging a USB flash drive when unmounting it and not explaining why the flash drive was not writeable on next mounting yet I last used it during the a live session of the same distro, seeing repos that worked for a few days then stopped working for a few days, no matter which mirror I chose, installing ultra conservative packages that are years old....

I've seen quite a bit, not all of it is sensible. Above and beyond, all I sought from installing a distribution was an intuitive and resoundingly successful first time user experience with testing then installing the target live distribution, and yet the above plan weeded out about 6 distros. 5 years ago, I rarely lost a distro using a reduced version of this test plan.

16 years ago, when a Knoppix Linux Live CD came to me, I saw a standard for live sessions was clearly achievable. 16 years of iterations, and sometimes, modern Linux stumbles on the process. Oh before I forget, 'Thank you, Klaus' (Klaus Knopper, creator of Knoppix).

Versions of this testing sequence have been developing in my life with Linux, but just now, I'm thinking these are robust enough to share.

Hoping this helps newbies to have a great first time user experience.

eMachines T5246 AMD 64 X2 w/Ubuntu Mate 16.04.4
EeePC 900A w/Antix 16.2 32 bit
Dell Inspiron 1545 w/Neptune 5.1

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